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Lord Buddha is one of the ten major incarnations of Lord Vishnu. So he is worshiped both by the Buddhists and Hindus. Buddhism is practiced in many countries all over Southeast Asia, but it was first established in India. Buddhism was a major religion in India 2000 years ago, but declined until according to a 1951 census there were only 181,000 Buddhists in India.
The present number in India is approximately 5 million. Siddhartha Gautama, who was later called the Buddha, appeared around 563 BC (the Mahabodhi Society accepts 624 BC) in a warrior caste. Buddha got married when he was 16, and he had one son. Lord Buddha left home when he was twenty-nine in search of the answer to life.
After about six years Lord Buddha went to Bodh Gaya and sat under the Bodhi tree. While meditating he was tempted by the demon Mara, who offered him all the desires of the world. Not taking these temptations, he received enlightenment. You can see these scenes in many of the Buddhist carvings around India.
There are four important places connected with the Buddha's life-Lumbini in Nepal, where he was born; Bodh Gaya in Bihar, where he received enlightenment; Sarnath near Varanasi, where he preached his first major sermon; and Kushinagar in UP, where he left his body. When the Buddha left his body, his body was cremated and the ashes were given to people to whom he had preached. Some of these ashes were buried under Stupas throughout India.
At Rajgir, Buddha converted King Bimbisara to Buddhism and the First Buddhist Council was held there. At Vaishali, Buddha preached his last sermon and announced his approaching nirvana. At Nalanda there is the remains of an ancient Buddhist University. These three places are all in Bihar near Patna. Other places in India are famous Buddhist places because of monuments, temples, or cave temples built there. The finest of these are at Ajanta and Ellora in Maharashtra, Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh and Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh. Buddha preached Four Noble Truths:
(1)life is painful because nothing in this material world is permanent or reliable;
(2) this suffering is caused by desire, attachment, and ignorance-,
(3) there is a state beyond this suffering which is called nirvana; and
(4) this state of nirvana is by the eight-fold path, which is: understanding, thought, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration. Buddha also believed in karma. He rejected the teachings of the Vedic scriptures and the Vedic gods. He did this because when he appeared, people were using the Vedas to slaughter animals and kill them in the name of performing sacrifices.
So even though followers of the Vedas accept Buddha as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, they reject his philosophy. Buddhism spread over a good part of India during the time of Emperor Ashoka (272-232 BC), after he became a Buddhist. He sent people all over South Asia to preach the doctrines of Buddhism and spread it all over this area. From the 7th to 12th centuries AD Buddhism started to decline in India due to the influential preaching of Sankaracharya, Ratnanujacharya, and Madhvacharya, who gradually reintroduced the Vedic conclusion. As a final blow to Buddhism, the Muslims carried out large-scale slaughters of monks and destroyed their monasteries and places of worship.